BMW says annual $80 CarPlay fee needed for ongoing testing & development

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in iPhone
BMW's controversial annual and lifetime subscription fees for Apple CarPlay are because of the demands of ongoing software testing and engineering, the automaker says.

BMW CarPlay


The problem is that CarPlay needs to be tested and possibly updated every time Apple releases new software to avoid conflicts, BMW told Car and Driver. This is exacerbated by support for wireless connections, something still rare in the CarPlay world.

Automakers are still adapting to the idea of constant aftermarket support, Car and Driver noted. While it's of course necessary to offer parts and recalls, cars have traditionally been designed to operate without any other maker updates.

The arrival of CarPlay, Android Auto, and complex first-party dashboard interfaces has complicated the situation.

Toyota's 2020 Supra operates on the same technology as BMW, but the company is reportedly offering CarPlay free for four years while it decides if a subscription is warranted. It doesn't charge for the platform on any other vehicle.

BMW announced plans to charge $80 annually or $300 for 20 years in January 2018. That took effect in July, and was met with backlash. While CarPlay is sometimes reserved for more expensive trims, the vast majority of compatible vehicles are subscription-free.

Indeed the BMW strategy has caused other problems, since an outage interrupted CarPlay use earlier this year. The company's ConnectedDrive service went down, taking CarPlay subscription verification with it.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 61
    I didn't know BMW was in dire financial straits it needed to nickel and dime their high end customers.  If Chevrolet doesn't do it I would figure there is no reason for BMW to.  
    dewmejahbladenetmageflyingdpStrangeDayszroger73JWSCpscooter63cornchiprepressthis
  • Reply 2 of 61
    atadamsatadams Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    BMW is stupid. They could have increased the price of the car the same amount and made CarPlay standard and no one would have blinked an eye. Now they have a bunch of negative press.
    dewmemuthuk_vanalingamGG1jahbladenetmagenealc5flyingdpspace2001bonobobStrangeDays
  • Reply 3 of 61
    CiprolCiprol Posts: 35member
    This is hilarious and sad for a car company that once was on the top of my admiration list. At my last car purchase 3 years ago, it was exactly this arrogance and demand for extra money for CarPlay that made me pick up a Merc instead. Merc provided CarPlay/GooglePlay support as a part of its default factory package and without charge. Sorry, BMW can continue to lose sales with it as I approach my next car update cycle.
    netmagecornchiprepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 61
    I love my BMW - but will not buy another one if they keep this up.  I’m sure I am not alone.  This is just stupid, greedy arrogance.  And the “reason” they are now giving is because of the world wide backlash.  
    jimrgrahamrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 61
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,087member
    My Alpine aftermarket head unit includes wireless and they never charge for updates. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an update and I’ve had it for two years. I’m sure BMW charges more up front for their head unit than Alpine charges for theirs. 

    Found this response on Crutchfield's forum asking about firmware updates. This might be accurate but multiple people said the same thing:

    "The beauty of CarPlay is that you don't need to update the headhunt. The headhunt displays what the phone wants it to. Thus when you get a new iPhone or iOS update it just works. Any software improvements are done on the phone not the head unit."

    If this is accurate, then what is BMW thinking they need to update on their head unit????? I presume Android Play works the same way.
    edited August 2 stompynetmageStrangeDaysthtracerhomie3pscooter63repressthisCiprolwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 61
    I didn't know BMW was in dire financial straits it needed to nickel and dime their high end customers.  If Chevrolet doesn't do it I would figure there is no reason for BMW to.  
    This is not new behavior for BMW or most of the German manufacturers.  Hopefully the backlash will deter all of the manufacturers from adopting such a greedy practice.  But some will just figure out that if they just imbed it in the cost of the car they could get more for the option and avoid the criticism.
    1STnTENDERBITSjahbladeJWSCrepressthisargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 61
    payecopayeco Posts: 334member
    As a long time BMW customer this really pisses me off. When CarPlay is included included for free as a standard feature on a $13,000 Chevy Spark there is just no justification for this. 

    I live in NYC now and no longer need a daily driver but I still own a BMW I keep at my parents house in another state. Were I ever to replace my current car I would seriously consider a Mercedes or Audi because of this nonsense. 
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 61
    payecopayeco Posts: 334member
    conitor said:
    I didn't know BMW was in dire financial straits it needed to nickel and dime their high end customers.  If Chevrolet doesn't do it I would figure there is no reason for BMW to.  
    This is not new behavior for BMW or most of the German manufacturers.  Hopefully the backlash will deter all of the manufacturers from adopting such a greedy practice.  But some will just figure out that if they just imbed it in the cost of the car they could get more for the option and avoid the criticism.
    Hard to justify even upping the price of the car for a cash grab for this when a $13,000 Chevy Spark includes CarPlay as a standard feature. 
    netmageJWSCrepressthisdhawkins541watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 61
    P-DogNCP-DogNC Posts: 37member
    BMW, Sie wissen, dass Sie total Scheiße reden...
    space2001roundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 61
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 829member
    rob53 said:
    My Alpine aftermarket head unit includes wireless and they never charge for updates. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an update and I’ve had it for two years. I’m sure BMW charges more up front for their head unit than Alpine charges for theirs. 

    Found this response on Crutchfield's forum asking about firmware updates. This might be accurate but multiple people said the same thing:

    "The beauty of CarPlay is that you don't need to update the headhunt. The headhunt displays what the phone wants it to. Thus when you get a new iPhone or iOS update it just works. Any software improvements are done on the phone not the head unit."

    If this is accurate, then what is BMW thinking they need to update on their head unit????? I presume Android Play works the same way.
    BMW's controversial annual and lifetime subscription fees for Apple CarPlay are because of the demands of ongoing software testing and engineering, the automaker says.

    From what I see it isn't even specifically for updates.. What software testing and engineering is BMW doing in regard to Apple's Car Play?  Seems like a BS charge.. like the universal tax you pay for having a phone line in your home.. nobody can explain exactly what the surcharge is for, but it needs to be paid.. hahaha.. wow.



    JWSCpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 61
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 299member
    BMW's explanation is just so much baloney as others have pointed out.  They need $80/yr when other car manufacturers selling cars at half or even 1/4 the price of a BMW can throw it in for free?

    Last year I was thinking of replacing my aging BMW with another (I ended up getting a 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus a month ago) - looked into The Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW (can't remember the model name - their sporty hatchback).  Audi included CarPlay for free - BMW didn't.  Not only that, but before you could even get CarPlay, you had to buy their $2,000 navigation system!?!  One of the main points of having CarPlay is to navigate using its apps rather than the dealer's maps (which also charge for keeping those updated - at least they did back when I bought my BMW).
    JWSCracerhomie3bbhwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 61
    GG1GG1 Posts: 276member
    P-DogNC said:
    BMW, Sie wissen, dass Sie total Scheiße reden...
    Bestimmt.

    I hope this behaviour doesn't start a trend with other car makers.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 61
    mike54mike54 Posts: 347member
    Agree with others, BMW should of just included it in the price.
    However, companies and individuals have caught on that subscriptions can be easy money. Also I see that subscriptions will become common place for an expanding range of products. Companies know that many are willing to pay for subscriptions, ie ongoing rent.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 61
    It's a steaming heap of nonsense. There are basic things a manufacturer needs to supply support for, and CarPlay does the rest. Those basic things don't change when CarPlay gets an update. Apple debugs the software and any hardware interaction. Does BMW want to charge users $80 a year for the work that Apple is doing? It seems that way. Does a BMW owner feel better about their CarPlay than someone sitting next to them at a traffic light who gets it for free - because they pay for their installation of it? I hope not. 

    Now, if BMW wants to update its BMW app that is available in CarPlay, that's different. But how many people actually use it?

    This being said, my parents own a small fleet of Mercedes with CarPlay, and they still use the onboard navigation with its internal optical media disc that they purchase for upwards of $300 every year or so. I can't convince them that Google or Apple Maps is superior in dynamic functionality.

    At these levels of auto purchase cost, I am willing to bet that many don't even blink an eye. 
    StrangeDaysJWSCpscooter63repressthisargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 61
    GG1GG1 Posts: 276member
    rob53 said:
    My Alpine aftermarket head unit includes wireless and they never charge for updates. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an update and I’ve had it for two years. I’m sure BMW charges more up front for their head unit than Alpine charges for theirs. 

    Found this response on Crutchfield's forum asking about firmware updates. This might be accurate but multiple people said the same thing:

    "The beauty of CarPlay is that you don't need to update the headhunt. The headhunt displays what the phone wants it to. Thus when you get a new iPhone or iOS update it just works. Any software improvements are done on the phone not the head unit."

    If this is accurate, then what is BMW thinking they need to update on their head unit????? I presume Android Play works the same way.
    From what I can find, you are correct. As long as the manufacturer's headunit satisfies CarPlay's (and Android Auto's) hardware requirements, the headunit runs an app that mirrors the phone's screen as well as interfacing with some of the car's UI features (touchscreen, volume control button/knob, microphone, etc.). This is about as generic as it gets (from the headunit side). The only thing I can think of is if CarPlay adds control for more of the car's interfaces, then the headunit app would need updating.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 61
    WhiteGuyWhiteGuy Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    That’s funny because Mitsubishi hasn’t demanded I pay for Apple Carplay in my 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer
    StrangeDaysJWSCracerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 61
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,677member
    GG1 said:
    rob53 said:
    My Alpine aftermarket head unit includes wireless and they never charge for updates. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an update and I’ve had it for two years. I’m sure BMW charges more up front for their head unit than Alpine charges for theirs. 

    Found this response on Crutchfield's forum asking about firmware updates. This might be accurate but multiple people said the same thing:

    "The beauty of CarPlay is that you don't need to update the headhunt. The headhunt displays what the phone wants it to. Thus when you get a new iPhone or iOS update it just works. Any software improvements are done on the phone not the head unit."

    If this is accurate, then what is BMW thinking they need to update on their head unit????? I presume Android Play works the same way.
    From what I can find, you are correct. As long as the manufacturer's headunit satisfies CarPlay's (and Android Auto's) hardware requirements, the headunit runs an app that mirrors the phone's screen as well as interfacing with some of the car's UI features (touchscreen, volume control button/knob, microphone, etc.). This is about as generic as it gets (from the headunit side). The only thing I can think of is if CarPlay adds control for more of the car's interfaces, then the headunit app would need updating.
    This is my understanding as well - the car stereo screen simply acts as a second display for your phone. There is obviously some software interaction between them for the car to signal your phone that the connection and display are present, as well as what 'clicks' have been made, but that's relatively static. 

    I had something similar several years ago when I stayed at a nicer (but not luxury) hotel outside of Chicago for a wedding - they nickeled and dimed you for everything. If you took the paper that laid outside your door every morning they charged you $5. If you used the coffee packets in the room, if you drank the water bottle, wifi... all stuff that you get for free when you stay at a Holiday Inn Express.

    I agree with others, this is primarily a money grab from BMW. Virtually every other manufacturer out there includes this for free (or as part of the $20-80k+ you are paying for the car. For a luxury brand that is already overpricing their product to do it is especially galling. For reference, I have a 2017 Audi A4, basically a direct competitor to the BMW 328i. CarPlay is free. For life. 
    ravnorodomwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 61
    nealc5nealc5 Posts: 20member
    atadams said:
    BMW is stupid. They could have increased the price of the car the same amount and made CarPlay standard and no one would have blinked an eye. Now they have a bunch of negative press.
    Exactly this.  You're buying a $60,000 car, and they tell you that the "super duper double extra high end" package for $3500 is needed to get the heated leather seats, back massage, Gucci trim, GPS, high end speakers and CarPlay, and nobody will care.  But if they tell me that I need to spend $80/year to support CarPlay, that's just nickel and diming people.  I'm sure its purely an accounting issue to deal with their recurring costs after the sale is made.  But it sounds stupid and petty.

    I've had to buy the damn navigation system (which I never use, because I use my phone with CarPlay) in my Chevy Volt just to get the better sound system. Every year I get a notice to "update my maps" for only $139.99. Never do it.  
    JWSCwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 61
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 279member
    rob53 said:
    Found this response on Crutchfield's forum asking about firmware updates. This might be accurate but multiple people said the same thing:

    "The beauty of CarPlay is that you don't need to update the headhunt. The headhunt displays what the phone wants it to. Thus when you get a new iPhone or iOS update it just works. Any software improvements are done on the phone not the head unit."

    If this is accurate, then what is BMW thinking they need to update on their head unit????? I presume Android Play works the same way.
    This is sort-of accurate. You don't need to update the head unit to maintain steady-state functionality.

    Apple periodically increases the things CarPlay can do, though, and some existing platforms may be able to add support for these new features. For example, at initial release, CarPlay ran one video stream (to the head unit) and an iPod Accessory Protocol 2 (IAP2) data stream for audio track information. A few versions ago, they added an IAP2 data stream for navigation directions so the car can display them in a multi-function display in the instrument cluster. Later, they added support for a whole second video stream so CarPlay can show things (like a map) in the instrument console display. Most recently, they've added support for variable screen sizes (as in you hit a button in the car and the car interface takes over part of the screen, so CarPlay squeezes down) and non-square displays. Existing cars might be able to take advantage of some of these features to improve the user experience, but would require software updates to do so.

    The WWDC 2019 session Advances in CarPlay Systems is pretty cool, and only 16 minutes long. Check it out.

    Edited to add: To be clear, I think BMW's yearly charge is scummy. It is highly implausible it costs them significant development time to deal with Apple's changes to CarPlay.

    I'm just saying their assertion of needing periodic updates isn't entirely baseless.
    edited August 2 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 61
    atadams said:
    BMW is stupid. They could have increased the price of the car the same amount and made CarPlay standard and no one would have blinked an eye. Now they have a bunch of negative press.
    What same amount? $80? That's per year. How does BMW know how many years to price in? Charging for CarPlay for this reason is spurious, like Japanese whaling 'research', but unless you know how long you will own the car and how long the car will last, your idea doesn't work (at least for BMW).
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